State Rep. Paul Thissen, who served as House speaker during two particularly productive years for DFL lawmakers at the State Capitol, said Wednesday he would not seek re-election to his southwest Minneapolis seat.
Thissen is running for governor this year, and candidates have already lined up to compete for the open legislative seat he has held for 15 years.
"Together we experienced some serious challenges including the worst economic downturn in generations from which many Minnesota families have still not fully recovered and we joined together to win some incredible victories for everyday Minnesotans," Thissen said in an announcement Wednesday.
He was the longest-serving DFL House leader since the 1970s, serving one term as speaker and two terms as House minority leader.
While Thissen was speaker, the Legislature balanced the state budget in part by raising income taxes on the state's wealthiest residents, raised the state minimum wage, invested in early childhood education and legalized same-sex marriage and medical marijuana. But after that two-year period, the DFL lost its House majority in the 2014 election and has not reclaimed it.
Thissen, a 51-year-old attorney, was first elected to the House in 2002. He also ran for governor in 2010 but dropped out when he failed to get the DFL endorsement. This year, he is competing with a number of other prominent DFL politicians in the party's contest for governor.
With Thissen bowing out, a number of candidates have launched campaigns to represent his House district, a longtime DFL stronghold.
Those candidates are Sara Freeman, board chair of the Domestic Abuse Project and a Minneapolis Public Schools volunteer; high school teacher Timothy Laughinghouse; Jamie Long, the deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison; and Meggie Wittorf, a finance professional and OutFront Minnesota board member.